Apple Awarded Patent for Contact Aware User Interface in Messaging Applications

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 15, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider) that details a user interface in messaging apps that dynamically changes its background based on conversation participants. The patent details how this interface would adapt to both single and group conversations, and how it would work with specific data to generate images.

    Outlining the "Generation of a user interface based on contacts", the patent describes how a conversation can be displayed over a background image associated with a contact. Users have the ability to assign a photo to a single contact to serve as a background, while the image itself can be adjusted to be dimmed or alpha-blended with a background color to ensure greater message readability. If an image is not assigned, the interface could also generate a default male or female image based on contact information.


    The concept also carries over into group chats, as one user can be highlighted while others are greyed out to display who sent the last message. Alternative methods described in the patent also include showing contact thumbnails in a Cover Flow or carousel fashion, as well as layouts that center and increase the thumbnail of the most recent contacts with animations for emphasis. The patent also describes a potential API for third party developers to integrate the user interface into their own apps.

    As with other software patents, it is unknown whether Apple plans to include this dynamic user interface in future versions of Messages or other apps. However, Apple could make changes to the Messages app in iOS 8, which is expected to be unveiled next month at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Recent rumors have suggested that iOS 8 will feature a focus on health-related applications along with enhancements to Maps and Siri.

    Article Link: Apple Awarded Patent for Contact Aware User Interface in Messaging Applications
  2. Lapidus macrumors regular


    May 14, 2012
  3. Dulcimer macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2012
  4. mabaker macrumors 65816


    Jan 19, 2008
    iChat-style icons would be MORE than enough. Nothing more. Apple got UX design in 2005 right. Stick to it.
  5. thefourthpope macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2007
    Way too crowded. Messages should be about messages.
  6. osofast240sx macrumors 68030


    Mar 25, 2011
    This is huge epic, important patent. Cook and Co are firing on all cylinders.
  7. Danthetechman macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2014
    This ruins the "clean UI" idea, and since i don't have contact photos for all of my contacts, this would be weird looking if implemented. And i don't usually like to have a photo of the person I'm talking to enlarged and stretched to fill the background.
    I'd also like to point out that this "idea" isn't as revolutionary as you seem to think. Contact photos in the BG of a text convo? Maybe there's a reason this hadn't been patented...
  8. Alphabetize macrumors 6502


    Oct 6, 2013
    I know it's just a patent, and it doesn't mean it will ultimately be implemented, but I frequently have group messages between 5-6 people and I think the background images will be ugly and add clutter.
  9. bushido Suspended


    Mar 26, 2008
    sounds like something you have been able to do with WhatsApp, Viber, Kakaotalk for like forever?
  10. lazyrighteye macrumors 68000


    Jan 16, 2002
    Denver, CO
    The current implementation of images and initials in circles that accompany individual chat bubbles is perfectly sufficient and adheres to overall OS aesthetic.
    Who knows what they have up their sleeve and/or if this will see the light of day? But from my distant vantage point, looks like an idea I hope remains on the shelf.
  11. osofast240sx macrumors 68030


    Mar 25, 2011
    Not really
  12. Nevaborn macrumors 65816


    Aug 30, 2013
    Apple and Pictures are the two things that does not go together.

    . Lack of proper file storage, access or backup of photos in iCloud.
    . No recent support for Aperture
    . Stupid small contact photos
    . No real user photo controls

    and now they want to patent putting a contact photo in messages =/

    of all the things they could / should be fixing this is what they waste time patenting? .... newsflash I don't need to see who is messaging me.
  13. thatdrh Suspended

    Dec 6, 2012
    too late?


    I don't know.. I think this should of been done back when they added the photos for contacts, like when you make phone calls. Its sort of cool, but why worry about it now...
  14. osofast240sx macrumors 68030


    Mar 25, 2011
    News flash apple is a huge company! They can do multiple thing at once.
  15. b-dogg macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2009
  16. MR-LIZARD macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2012
    To the people saying this doesn't fit with iOS 7 clean design. Look at the patent application date; it's 2012. The patent sketches also clearly show pre-iOS 7 features. The triangularish back button and the network strength indicator give this away. Not saying they can't use it as often these sketches are just basic diagrams, but it shows it was thought up during a different time.

    The patent's just been granted; doesn't mean they just thought it up or will start using it tomorrow.

    The idea's not bad to help avoid messaging the wrong person. Not sure about the execution though; could look ugly. Particularly as most people's contact photos aren't nice portraits with clear backgrounds.
  17. Pakaku macrumors 68000


    Aug 29, 2009
    So from the sounds of it, all I have to do is set every background-assigned photo to 0% alpha, and I could once again enjoy a messaging system that doesn't look like an amateur designed it.

    I thought Apple didn't like offering choice?
  18. jmh600cbr macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2012
    Apple is great at getting patents. Oftentimes these patents don't see light until they can be unified in the UI properly.

    Don't expect this soon and don't expect it to be simply a contact photo behind the messages.
  19. thaifood macrumors 6502

    Jun 8, 2011
    Extending this to FaceTime conference calling would be awesome
  20. Macboy Pro macrumors 6502a

    Feb 16, 2011
    This is why they spend so much time in court. A patent for this is completely unnecessary and really should not be legit!!
  21. GenesisST macrumors 68000


    Jan 23, 2006
    Where I live
    It seems that filing for a patent is like hitting a hot girl in a bar. You can try, knowing she'll say no, but you can still try.

    The trouble is that the patent hot girl has beer goggles... :)
  22. Hallsome macrumors newbie

    May 15, 2014
    I agree about the date being in 2012 and that since iOS 7 came out, it may not even be used. However in the recently published iOS 7 interface guidelines it specifically mentions and shows the weather app as the very first example in the guidelines of instantly providing the user with the information desired "ie current weather" using a background image and then allowing the user to obtain further info "hourly, weekly" as they desire.

    I disagree that the current idea of the initials of someone's name in bubbles are the best way to have a multi person conversations. Although it is not impossible to differentiate two individuals who have the same initials, it takes more energy to do so than to simply glance at the screen and instantly know who you are talking to, like the above example with the weather as the background image.

    Just some thoughts, again it may never even see the light of day...
  23. Urban Joe Suspended

    Mar 19, 2012
    Another example of Apples "I think, therefore I patent" mentality.
    In no rational, reasonable jurisdiction should this sort of thing ever be considered patent worthy. Period.
    Note to Apple: Innovate don't litigate.
  24. rhoydotp macrumors 6502


    Sep 28, 2006
    I agree with you that these sort of things are not patent-worthy. However, Apple is hardly the only company that does this. It's an unfortunate, but legal, loop-hole on the patent office that really needs to be fixed. If not them, Samsung or others will patent this and make money from it ... this is a business not some idealistic campaign.
  25. mojolicious macrumors 68000


    Mar 18, 2014
    Sarf London
    It would work for the Brady Bunch, but for the rest of us who either don't have contact photos, or use random stupid images as contact photos, it's a distinctly messy'n'meh idea.


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